This course is concerned with the general issues of cultural sensitivity and diversity awareness. From an academic point of view, the following brief introduction to the subject can be offered: Individuals, groups and associations in society interact with one another from an ever widening variety of cultural, linguistic, and ethnic backgrounds. There is therefore a permanent and growing need for cultural competency awareness and training. Some traditional development models that address diversity emphasize the importance of learning culturally specific information, such as behavioral and communication patterns, traditions, values and value-systems, as well as religious practices, symbols, and rituals. Meanwhile, Culturology – or the scientific approach to the study of culture, has spawned a variety of new fields of research in the social sciences.
In fact, while all the above attributes may be seen as relevant, being knowledgeable about specific cultures and groups may not make it necessarily easier to respect and appreciate differences and to interact effectively with persons from other cultures. Developing cultural sensitivity and diversity awareness is extremely complex and an ongoing process. This is because culture can include how human beings live, how they relate in a standard way to their own worlds, their expectations, assumptions, particular preferences, child-rearing practices, attitudes about time or money, definitions of achievement, concepts of beauty, art, music and food, to name only a few. Nonetheless, culture – at the same time, is only one element which defines individual personalities.
The course will emphasize the processes required to understand how specific factors may influence the perceptions and attitudes of different cultures toward one another. In the broader context, there are some standard propositions bearing on notions of international political culturology as a subfield of international relations. These are concerned with efforts aimed at understanding the global cultural system, as well as its numerous subsystems. The aim of this course is to explain how cultural variables interact with politics, economics, business and workplace dynamics as influential factors in world affairs.
The importance of cultural studies flows from the realization that every society is composed of several community areas. People in one area may have common ties of culture, race, language, religion or traditions which make them essentially different from those in other areas. It is the basic function of the institutional structures of all societies to retain the loyalty of all communities and citizens. A key prerequisite to the retention of loyalty is associated with the presence of norms of equality and fairness which are also major determinants of individual prosperity, peace and stability.
The propositions underlying the course will enable students to identify the specific modes of inter-cultural communication which may ultimately function as catalysts to the promotion – or obstruction – of understanding between culturally diverse individuals or social groups.